The Best Apple TV+ Show You Shouldn’t Ignore Because of the Director

When people hear that M. Night Shyamalan has a show on Apple TV+, their first instinct might be to hold their nose and turn away. People who have checked the show out, however, are saying not so fast.

While Shyamalan has been pilloried in recent years for making increasingly ridiculous movies, the filmmaker might be making a comeback with Servant, his Apple series which has gotten mostly positive reviews so far. 

The rise and fall of M Night Shyamalan

Apple TV+ logo
Apple TV+ logo | Chesnot/Getty Images)

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When The Sixth Sense came out in 1999,  no one saw it coming. Shyamalan had made a couple of movies beforehand, but those had not gained much attention, and no one expected much from a low-key Bruce Willis ghost story.

Then came that twist ending, which stunned audiences and kept them coming back for repeat viewings to see how the twist made sense. It was one of the rare movies to make more money in its second weekend than it did in the first.

Shyamalan was able to maintain his momentum for a while with Unbreakable and Signs, but then many thought The Village’s twist ending was ridiculous, and the wheels started to come off. A string of self-indulgent misfires, including Lady in the Water, The Happening, and The Last Airbender started to make it look like Shyamalan had lost his touch. His name began to draw jeers in theaters.

Then the director began to show signs of life, and his recovery seemed complete with the success of Split, his thriller about a kidnapper with multiple personalities. Then the sequel to that movie, Glass, was deemed inferior by many.

Now the pendulum seems to have swung back the other way with Servant

What is ‘Servant’?

What Servant is not is the first time that Shyamalan has tried TV. Prior to that, he produced and directed some episodes of Wayward Pines, which ran for two seasons on Fox.

That was hailed as a return to form by some, and now lightning seems to have struck twice with Servant, which is about a Philadelphia couple who hire a nanny named Leanne for their baby son, Jericho, who is actually a reborn doll. Once Leanne arrives on the scene, things start getting very strange. 

The series has an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, with this Critical Consensus stating: “Though Servant‘s slithering mystery often wanders into dark, crowded corners, its claustrophobic atmosphere and powerful performances build enough tension to keep viewers hooked.” 

As he did with Wayward Pines, Shyamalan himself has only directed a handful of the episodes himself. Mark Dawidziak of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote, “The best original show (on) Apple TV Plus was lurking in the shadows, which is fitting, since it’s a horror drama loaded with endlessly intriguing dark shadows of the actual and psychological variety.

Apple TV+ is recovering from a rocky first impression

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Like Shyamalan, Apple TV+ itself seems to be improving after not impressing viewers much. Despite an array of impressive stars, viewers seem largely unimpressed by most of the initial offerings.

For many people, the service’s low price of only $5 a month seemed fitting. Apple was even giving away the service free for a year to people who had recently bought Apple devices. 

Now the company has made waves with some high-profile acquisitions. Tom Hanks was going to go to theaters this summer with his World War II movie, Greyhound, but its distributor, Sony, decided to sell the rights to Apple, where it will play exclusively on their service.

Apple had another big get when they announced they would partner with Martin Scorsese to make his next movie, Killers of the Flower Moon. In an arrangement similar to the one he made with Netflix on his previous movie The Irishman, Flower Moon  will get theatrical distribution, and then will play only on Apple.